Westbury High School (Houston, Texas)

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Westbury High School

Westbury High School is a secondary school located in Brays Oaks,[1] of Southwest Houston, Texas, near the Westbury neighborhood. It has grades 9 through 12, and is part of the Houston Independent School District. As of 2015 the principal is Susan Monaghan.

In addition to its academic programs it has automotive technology, health science, and business career programs.[2]


Westbury High School opened its doors for the first time in the fall of 1961. The three-story building with its main entrance facing Gasmer Street housed the administrative offices, classrooms, a cafeteria, an auditorium, library and a gym. The grounds were bare, no trees or grass greeted the first classes on opening day. To the right of the building, at the corner of Chimney Rock and Gasmer Streets, stood “The Company Store,” a hardware store.

Westbury’s 1961 enrollment consisted of 813 students - seniors, juniors, sophomores coming from Bellaire, Lamar, and San Jacinto High Schools, and freshmen coming from Johnston Jr High School. After the first year, there would not be a freshman class until the late 70’s. Of that first year’s class, 58 seniors received their diplomas in the Westbury High School auditorium.[3]

Shading the school was the water tower that served the Westbury neighborhood. Mary Beth Kulp and Donna Harkness, the editors of the first yearbook, imagined the water tower as a silent citadel watching over the students, teachers, and administrators as they busied themselves with the task of transferring from one generation to the next the culture of the western world. They imagined the water tower thinking as it looked down on the school. “I, the majestic water tower beside it, hear its name and feel a part of it.” The metaphor of the water tower as citadel became the title of Westbury’s yearbook. The students became the “Westbury Rebels”.

Mr. W. I. “Jim” Burns was Westbury’s first principal. A lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Mr. Burns had taught chemistry at San Jacinto and Lamar High Schools and had opened Bellaire High School as assistant principal. The principal of Bellaire, Mr. Harland Andrews, complained that all of his good teachers wanted to transfer to Westbury so they could work under Mr. Burns. Many of the first staff members did, indeed, follow Mr. Burns from Bellaire High School. Among them were Westbury’s first assistant principal, Mr. Kenneth Gupton, and the dean, Mrs. Rivers Lodge. Mrs. Lodge became assistant principal in 1970.

There were 73 teachers that first year. The curriculum included not only the academic courses—math, science, English and foreign language; but also the fine arts—music and art, speech, drama, journalism, home economics; the commercial subjects---typing, business machines, and business law; the industrial arts—mechanical drawing—architectural drawing, woodshop and metal shop; drivers education, physical education and the National Defense Cadet Corps.”

In the early 1960s Westbury had no air conditioning, just fans. “Temporary” classroom buildings were brought in. As the years passed, trees were planted; the grass grew, and Westbury’s student body flourished. Air conditioning was installed in the late 1960s and in the early 1970s, a three-story classroom wing was added to the east side of the school building to accommodate the growth.

The “Company Store” was purchased by the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and was converted to the Oceanography/Living Resource Center to provide oceanography education and biological material for the district’s science classes. Later the oceanography was phased out and it became the Living Resource Center (known affectionately as the “Frog Farm” around Westbury). Mr. LeRoy Hardy, the center’s director, was one of the original science teachers at Westbury.

Mr. W. L. Burns died of a heart attack in the summer of 1966. Mr. John Brandstetter served as the interim principal until Mr. Kenneth Gupton was appointed principal in 1967. In memory of Mr. Burns, Westbury established the W. L. Burns Award to honor academic excellence. Each May the students deemed best by each department are honored in an impressive formal assembly. Award winners receive the distinctive W.L. Burns Award trophy, modeled from the permanent trophy situated in the foyer outside the auditorium. The symbolism of the trophy “darkness into light...ignorance into learning...” and the noble words of its inscription, “Esse quam videre,” meaning “to be, rather than to seem” emphasize the essence of Westbury academic achievement.

The 2000s[edit]

On May 18, 2001, the main education building was declared unsafe; renovation crews discovered that the concrete, intended to measure at 3,000 pounds per square inch, instead measured at 1,400 to 2,000 pounds per square inch. The district did not permit students to retrieve their belongings. The district tested the other schools built between 1956 and 1965 and did not discover structural problems.[4] A new campus for Westbury was completed in the fall of 2004. Westbury collaborated (as have many other schools) with Brown University to set up a magnet program Coalition of Essential Schools.

On February 9, 2006, a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in a second floor school restroom facility. The suspect escaped detection and left the campus before administrators realized that a sexual assault had happened. When the suspect was identified, it was revealed that he was already incarcerated for an unrelated incident.[5] Ronald Walker pleaded guilty and received 45 years of prison for this and other sexual assault crimes.[6]

In 2006, Charles Rotramel, executive director of the nonprofit program Youth Advocates, stated in a Houston Chronicle article that Lee High School, Westbury High School, and Sharpstown High School have suffered from the actions of youth criminal gangs.[7]

On November 28, 2006, a 16-year-old 9th grade boy named Julian Ruiz[8] died from two gunshot wounds in the torso while walking to Westbury; he died at the 5400 block of Dryad as a result of a drive-by shooting. A tan or gold 1990s Mercury Cougar used as a getaway car for the shooters was discovered in Stafford on November 30.[9] The two 17-year-old suspects in the shooting were identified as Augustin Miguel Marquez and Aldo Aguilar Ramirez.[10] In a response to the incident, district and school officials said that the incident had occurred outside of the school property, and had no bearing on the safety of the students inside.[11]

In fall 2007, Westbury admitted Burundian refugees who were resettled in Houston.[12]

A 2007 Johns Hopkins University/Associated Press study referred to Westbury as a "dropout factory" where at least 40% of the entering freshman class does not make it to their senior year.[13] During that year 41% of high-school-age children zoned to Westbury chose to attend a different Houston ISD school.[14]

The district named the Rita Woodward Environmental Nature Park on February 14, 2008.[15]

The 2010s[edit]

In 2010 HISD acquired two apartment complexes in poor condition in order to expand Westbury.[16]

In 2011 the Brays Oaks district expanded.[17] Westbury High School became a part of the district.[18]

In 2013, the school decided to change their mascot from the Westbury Rebels, to the Westbury Huskies.

In 2014 the district announced that the school will encourage all of its students to take Advanced Placement courses.[19]

Area residents believed that HISD wanted to acquire two more apartment complexes to further expand Westbury,[16] and HISD officials told area residents that they planned to acquire the Westbury Manor Apartments.[20] By 2014 they discovered that the 2012 bond did not specify purchasing additional complexes; residents started an online petition to ask HISD to acquire those complexes.[16] In January 2015 HISD board members rejected acquiring the Westbury Manor Apartments.[20]

Jason Catchings became the principal of Westbury in the 2014-2015 school year;[21] He previously served as the principal of Scarborough High School for a three year period.[22]

As part of the 2012 Bond the school is scheduled to have a $48 million renovation.[2]

In April 2015 an HISD spokesperson stated that the district was investigating an incident where a substitute teacher was asked to pass all of his/her students with grades of 80 or above.[23] An HISD report stated that Catchings was responsible for the order, and the district reassigned him while the district's director of high schools, Justin Fuentes, temporarily took Catchings's position.[24] The HISD board fired Catchings, who planned to file an appeal.[25] Catchings was replaced by Susan Monaghan, who previously was the principal of Pin Oak Middle School.[26]

Neighborhoods served by Westbury[edit]

Westbury High School

[27] Many neighborhoods in southwest Houston, including almost all of Westbury, Post Oak Manor, Marilyn Estates, Willowbend, most of Willow Meadows, Glenshire, Parkwest, Maplewood South, about half of Westwood, and parts of Fondren Southwest, are zoned to Westbury High School. The Harris County portion of the city of Missouri City is also zoned to Westbury High School.

In 1970 Westwood, along with some other White communities, was rezoned from Westbury to Madison High School because of a court ruling. By 1990, Westbury was about 50% Black, 25% White, 15% Hispanic, and 10% Asian while Madison was 1% White. In 1992 an attendance boundary shift occurred but Westwood was still in the Madison zone. The Westwood community advocated for a rezoning to Westbury,[28] and after the community gave a presentation to the HISD board, the board unanimously rezoned the community to Westbury.[29]

As of 2006 many middle and upper class residents of the Westbury attendance zone do not send their children to Westbury; usually they send their children to Bellaire High School, Lamar High School, or private schools.[30][31]


In April 2014 the HISD school board decided to rename remaining sports team names of Confederate and Native American mascots due to cultural insensitivity. Each school submitted its main choices to the HISD administration. The first mascot choice for the Westbury students was the "Huskies", replacing the "Rebels".[32] The previous mascot was the "Rebels".

Dress Code[edit]

As of 2015, The standard mode of dress for Westbury High School students is as follows:

Shirts: Solid colored polo styled shirts only. (Freshmen-White, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors will wear Light Grey or Royal Blue).

Pants: Khaki Slacks, or Blue Jeans (No Cargo Pants, leggings, or tights).

The standard dress was first established by principal Ivy Levingston.[31] According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the dress code was intended to prevent "gang-affiliated colors" from being a presence in the school.[33]

Feeder patterns[edit]

Elementary schools that feed into Westbury [27] include:

Middle schools that feed into Westbury include:

All pupils zoned to Johnston, Pershing, and Long Middle Schools may apply to attend Pin Oak Middle School; therefore Pin Oak also feeds into Westbury High School.[49]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Brays Oaks District." Brays Oaks. Retrieved on October 23, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Foster, Robin. "HISD speeds up timetable for renovation of Westbury" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Retrieved on November 21, 2015.
  3. ^ "The History of Westbury High School". Harris Connect. Retrieved September 2009. 
  4. ^ Downing, Margaret. "Stepchild?" Houston Press. September 6, 2001. 1.
  5. ^ Staff. "Man gets 45 years in sex assaults" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Wednesday May 30, 2007. p. B3. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  6. ^ "State fails to track school crime records" (Archive). KHOU-TV. October 26, 2009. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  7. ^ Ruiz, Rosanna. "Troublesome spike in teen violent crime." Houston Chronicle, December 10, 2006. B1 MetFront.
  8. ^ "Student fatally shot while walking to school," KTRK-TV
  9. ^ "Suspect vehicle could yield clues in student's fatal shooting," KTRK-TV
  10. ^ "Westbury shooting suspects sought." KHOU-TV.
  11. ^ Spencer, Jason. "Is Westbury dangerous?" Houston Chronicle. November 28, 2006. Retrieved on November 4, 2011.
  12. ^ Turner, Allan. "BACK TO SCHOOL / Facing new classes in a new country / Already amazed by life in Houston, Burundians get ready for ultimate marvel: school," Houston Chronicle. Saturday August 25, 2007. A1. Retrieved on October 23, 2011.
  13. ^ Scharrer, Gary. "Report points to 'dropout factories'." Houston Chronicle. Wednesday October 31, 2007. Retrieved on October 23, 2011.
  14. ^ Radcliffe, Jennifer. "Critics: In HISD, too many don't go where zoned / Black leaders argue bond has no fix to get kids back to schools in their neighborhoods." Houston Chronicle. Sunday October 14, 2007. B1 MetFront. Retrieved on October 23, 2011.
  15. ^ "A park takes root in Westbury." Houston Chronicle. February 25, 2008.
  16. ^ a b c Foster, Robin. "Residents push HISD to buy more land for Westbury High" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Tuesday November 11, 2014. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  17. ^ "Parks & Recreation." Brays Oaks. Retrieved on October 23, 2011.
  18. ^ "Enroll_Expansion.pdf." Brays Oaks Management District. Retrieved on October 23, 2011.
  19. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "A really big push for students to take Advanced Placement courses." Houston Chronicle. August 12, 2014. Retrieved on August 21, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Mellon, Ericka. "HISD rejects plan to take complex near Westbury High" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Thursday January 15, 2015. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  21. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "HISD: Westbury principal ordered passing grades" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Tuesday May 5, 2015. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  22. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "Westbury principal faces firing over grade-changing" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Tuesday May 12, 2015. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  23. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "HISD investigating alleged grade changing at Westbury High" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Thursday April 30, 2015. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  24. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "Westbury High principal reassigned after critical audit" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Wednesday May 6, 2015.
  25. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "Westbury principal plans to appeal termination" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Thursday May 14, 2015. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  26. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "HISD names Yates, Sterling, Westbury High principals" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. June 5, 2015. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  27. ^ a b "Westbury High School Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  28. ^ McAdams, p. 55.
  29. ^ McAdams, p. 56.
  30. ^ "Westbury through the eyes of a graduate." West University Examiner.
  31. ^ a b Downing, Margaret. "Stepchild?" Houston Press. September 6, 2001. 2.
  32. ^ Downing, Margaret. "Killing Archaic Symbols." Houston Chronicle. Wednesday April 23, 2004. Retrieved on May 12, 2014. -- title of page is "Rick Perry Lawyers Up. HISD Debuts New Mascots" with the main story by Carol Morgan.
  33. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "Westbury students' slayings prompt call to action." Houston Chronicle. February 12, 2008. Retrieved on January 15, 2010.
  34. ^ "Anderson Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  35. ^ "Elrod Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  36. ^ "Foerster Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  37. ^ "Gross Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  38. ^ "Parker Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  39. ^ "Bell Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  40. ^ "Kolter Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  41. ^ "Milne Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  42. ^ "Red Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  43. ^ "Shearn Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  44. ^ "Valley West Elementary Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  45. ^ "Fondren Middle Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  46. ^ "Johnston Middle Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  47. ^ "Pershing Middle Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  48. ^ "Welch Middle Attendance Zone," Houston Independent School District
  49. ^ "Pin Oak Middle School." The Southwest District. Houston Independent School District.
  50. ^ a b c d e f g "Distinguished HISD Alumni," Houston Independent School District
  51. ^ "Brodney Pool." NFL.

External links[edit]